Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Instagram cuts off support for Twitter cards, images now wonky

Instagram wants users to view photos on its service, not another. That makes sense, as it's a business (though one now owned by Facebook). Given that, it's given the shaft to Twitter, as on Wednesday Instagram disabled its integration with Twitter cards, a feature introduced in June that displays media content directly in your timeline.

Photos will still appear in your timeline, but some will display in a cropped, non-optimized view.

Speaking on Wednesday at the LeWeb conference, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom quickly addressed the change, which has already become controversial and caused much user angst.

While saying "we will always be integrated with Twitter in a way that you can tweet out from Instagram to Twitter," Systrom acknowledged that the change is "really confusing" and apologized for any problems users are seeing.

Systrom asserted that "The press has a history of painting things this way. We have a really good relationship with Twitter." There is some evidence to the contrary, such as Twitter's July move, blocking Instagram from using an API to find friends. However, he emphatically denied any thoughts that Instagram's removal of Twitter cards was a direct response to Twitter's move.

He also added that the change was unrelated to the company's Facebook acquisition, adding that "this isn't actually a consequence of us getting acquired." Instead, he said, the decision came straight from himself.

Instagram could reverse the move, but Systrom said the company believes that the change is "the correct thing for our business to do at this time." He said that the company wants users to use the new web client on because he believes it to be a better user experience.

"Really it's about where do you go to consume that image, to interact with that image. We want that to be on Instagram," Systrom said. "What we realized over time is we really needed to have an awesome Web presence."

Thanks to the major revisions Instagram has made to its web properties over the last few months, the company now wants to direct users to "where their content lives originally." He's definitely painting this change as something that will improve the experience for users and doesn't seem to think that the change will be a negative for Instagram's large user base.

Here's Instagram's official statement on the matter:

"We are currently working on building the best experience for Instagram users. A handful of months ago, we supported Twitter Cards because we had a minimal Web presence. We've since launched several improvements to our [Web site] that allow users to directly engage with Instagram content through likes, comments, [and] hashtags, and now we believe the best experience is for us to link back to where the content lives.

"We will continue to evaluate how to improve the experience with Twitter and Instagram photos. As has been the case, Instagram users will continue to be able to share to Twitter as they originally did before the Twitter Cards implementation."

Despite its denial, there has to be some thought about Facebook, as Twitter and Facebook are rivals.  We'll see how user reaction to this move turns out.

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